Urban Challenge National Finals - New Orleans (11/15/03)

Team Mumu (15088)

After a dazzling 9th place finish in the Las Vegas Urban Challenge, Team Mumu became a contender at the national finals held in New Orleans. It started with a 30 question multiple choice quiz, and even with the help of our crack Jeopardy champion, the team only managed nine correct answers out of the first 20. They got 8 of the last ten "tiebreaker" questions, but that was only enough to put them in the 8th group to leave, approximately 20 minutes behind the leaders. The trivia results were pretty narrow. The rumor at the party aftewards was that the best score was 11. A team with 10 correct was in the fifth group.

Unlike past challenges, where the checkpoint clue sheets were distributed at "race headquarters" location, the finals required a sprint across the French Quarter to Pontalba Cafe at 546 St. Peter in the French Quarter to obtain the clue sheet.

DISTANCE: 0.7 miles.

The clues were printed on a baton to prevent faxing capability. We had planned to dictate anyway.

We begin with checkpoint 3.


Chilly Today, Hot Tamale!

Checkpoint 3 is on Royal. To find out the address, imagine you live in a little house in Montana near the Canadian border. Because of your proximity to the border, you get the weather and daily temperatures in Celsius and Fahrenheit. You wonder at what temperature, if any, the temperature would be the same in both C & F. Substitute that temperature, if it exists, for A in the equation below. If no such temperature exists use 0 for A.

                   A + 750 = address on Royal


Everyone knows the answer and this clue isn't dictated to the research team back home.

DISTANCE: 0.25 miles.

TIME: 08:39



Checkpoint 4 shares its name with an old Atari game. Find it in the French Quarter

ANSWER: Adventure Traveler, 629 Toulouse St

This one had everyone stumped for way too long, but we didn't have the answer to checkpoint 5 yet either so neither could be skipped. The list of possible Atari games is large, and many are contenders for business names in New Orleans, but not necessarily in the French Quarter. The research team was using on-line directories, and the ground team sought help from a phone book, Tarot readers in Jackson Square and guys in bars (at 10am!). All to no avail.

Lynn started searching in reverse alphabetical order assuming that other people would start at the top of the Atari list. As luck would have it, the final answer began with "A". An early possible contender was Rampart Film Studio at 725 St. Peter, but that business is no longer there. The team had walked up to Rampart Street to photograph a street sign when Jared came up with Adventure Traveler nearly 1 hour and 40 minutes after the clue went out.

It turns out that the race organizers were going for the game, Kaboom, which wasn't in any of our Atari lists. Many other teams came up with Adventure. However, the Rampart parking garage, or any other business sharing a name with an Atari game would also have been accepted. They would not have accepted the Rampart St. sign, at least not without an argument. Also, the Rampart St. sign might be construed as not in the quarter because Rampart St. is the northwest boundary of the quarter.

DISTANCE: 0.14 miles. But they actually travelled much farther, covering more than 0.5 miles up and back to Rampart St.

TIME: 10:30


Callooh Callay!

The name of Checkpoint 5, located in the French Quarter, can be found in this literary extract:

What follows is a set of symbols, triangles, etc. that can be decoded to reveal the text of Lewis Carrol's Jabberwocky. (See photo.)

The symbols could not be communicated to the research team easily but John immediately realized that Calloh Callay was a reference to Jabberwocky and that the symbols were a substitution cipher of the text of the poem. The research team was sent off on a wild goose chase to find an establishment in the French Quarter named for one of the nonsense words in the poem. After that search came up empty (twice!), Tracey decided to carefully decrypt the text despite assertions that this was a "waste of time". Fortunately, she paid no attention, and persevered to find that the symbols diverged from the Jabberwocky on the fifth line:

"Beware, johnnys poboys is checkpoint 5"

ANSWER: Johnny Po-Boys, 511 Saint Louis St

This answer was determined at essentially the same time as the answer to Checkpoint 4 was found, and the team finally got moving. Only one other team got the answer to number 5 and our team knows they traded this answer to someone. All the other teams chose to skip this one as the hardest clue in the race. If only they'd been required to do all 12!

DISTANCE: .12 miles.

TIME: 10:35


Let them say what they want!

Checkpoint 6 is the rough foreign translation of a Rick Ocasek song. Find it on Magazine.

ANSWER: Le Bon Temps Roule -- Let The Good Times Roll, 4801 Magazine Street

Rick was in The Cars...

Chris had this early on, and by now the research team is blazing ahead with the answers. This one is a several miles away, up Magazine St, and our two crippled, limping runners are not going to outrun the bus. As they cross Canal Street, the skip woman is waving to them from her perch on a trash can. They snap a photo of themselves and the skip woman and can now skip a checkpoint.

Near the 4800 block, another team chose to get off the bus one stop early, sprint to the checkpoint for their photo, and get back on the same bus when everyone else arrived.

An even smarter move would have been to skip this one and stay on the bus all the way to Exposition Blvd. That would have saved over a mile of walking.

DISTANCE: 0.4 miles on foot to the bus stop on Magazine. Then about 3.5 miles on the #11 bus on Magazine.

TIME: 11:18


Oh Boy!

Checkpoint 7 is located at (2 x A) + 1255 on Exposition Blvd. To find out the address, add 1 or more O's (and O only) to each group of consonants below to make a word.

For example, WTRMR = tomorrow

Solve them all and count the number of O's. Substitute the total number of O'S for A in the equation above and that is the address of checkpoint 7.

Please stay on public property for your photo.

 DRKNB = doorknob     = 3
    VD = voodoo       = 4
 FLPRF = foolproof    = 4
 FTSTL = footstool    = 4
 BKWRM = bookworm     = 3
   MTT = motto        = 2
CTTNWD = cottonwood   = 4
 RTHDX = orthodox     = 3
 SHWRM = showroom     = 3
TLLBTH = tollbooth    = 3
PRTCLS = protocols    = 3
   MPH = oomph        = 2
  BLNG = oblong       = 2
  MNSN = monsoon      = 3
 FFSHT = offshoot     = 3

ANSWER: 46 O's = 1347 Exposition Blvd.

The ground team figured most of this out and it wasn't dictated. Research was briefly asked if there were any other words besides OOMPH for MPH but it didn't make much sense at the time.

Exposition Blvd. isn't much of a boulevard. It's a pedestrian walkway along the East side of Audobon Park. The other teams on the bus ran ahead. Only one other team from the bus stayed in sight.

DISTANCE: 1.5 miles

TIME: 11:43


Kiss Me, I'm Irish

Find the blarney stone in the Tulane University Campus.

ANSWER: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Dept., 211 Stanley Thomas Hall

DISTANCE: 0.5 miles

TIME: 11:54


How 'Bout a Blue Spot?

Find 13 nearly identical buildings between St Charles and the Mississippi. Of those 13 get your picture in front of the establishment which shares a connection with the Shopgirls and King Tut.

ANSWER: Martin Steve Studios, 624 Julia St

Another long trip downtown. This time the St. Charles trolley is the preferred form of public transportation. The team just missed a trolley, but fortunately another one came along shortly. There was also a scare when the trolley stopped in front of a track repair crew working with welding torches. But it was only a brief delay - they didn't have to wait for a new section of track to be installed.

DISTANCE: 0.1 miles on foot to the trolley. Then 3.7 miles on the trolley to Carondelet and Julia. Then .25 miles on foot to the checkpoint.

TIME: 12:32


Patented Wacky Equation:

                To adjust something to make it straight


                            Rhymes with DO

                         Equals checkpoint 10.

Find it between St Charles and the Mississippi and get a photo with signage.

ANSWER: True Brew Cafe, 200 Julia Street

Max came up with this as a possibility and didn't seem to realize it was the perfect answer until the rest of us jumped on the bandwagon.

DISTANCE: 0.35 miles.

TIME: 12:38


Crest ... as in toothpaste?

Based on the number of vessels flying its flag or flag of convenience, which of the following countries would be considered the largest maritime nation on earth:

Find all the crests near the river.

ANSWER: Panama = Toledo Crest

Research determines the answer is Panama with Liberia as second. The team must find the Toledo Crest which is eventually located on a plaque after a few false starts. The crests of all the Spanish provinces line the perimeter of the Plaza Espana. But the research team didn't have anything to go on besides Toledo. With better communication, research might have figured this one out, e.g., by noticing that all the possibilities are Spanish Provinces and then asking Google for spain+provinces+"new orleans". Nevertheless very little time was lost because Dave and Tracey ran ahead and ruled out the first guess (the cruise ship dock). The second guess, the World Trade Center, was suggested by a "Tourist Ranger". It too was wrong, but it was very close. After only a few seconds standing around outside the WTC another team came running up. They said the CP was on the other side of the train tracks -- currently in use by a freight train with no end in sight. The team found a pedestrian overpass to cross the tracks and quickly found the checkpoint.

DISTANCE: 0.4 miles.

TIME: 12:51



True or False? The same character killed Gloria for her heart in both the so-so movie and the gripping novel Blood Work.

If true, then Ocean Song by John T Scott is Checkpoint 12.

If false, then the Malcolm Woldenberg and Child sculpture is Checkpoint 12.

Find them both near the banks of the mighty Mississippi!


After some debate, research determines the answer is false and they need to find a statue in Waldenburg Park. We had visited this earlier in the week and knew exactly where to go -- except for some difficulty figuring out a route that didn't cross back over the train tracks. The 5 hour time limit is approaching and the team has now picked up the pace and is now running with a pronounced limp.

DISTANCE: .25 miles

TIME: 12:57


Phantom of the hall?

Checkpoint 1 shares its name with the initials of the actor who played a young version of the man who lurked around Fine hall. Find it near the French Quarter.

ANSWER: DBA, 616 Frenchmen St

Jared came up with this answer quickly. The movie is "A Beautiful Mind" and the actor David B. Allen played the young John Nash.

This checkpoint was farther away from the finish than checkpoint 2 and the skip person had been found earlier in the day, so this was chosen as the skip point.



Unscramble the following to find the one word establishment name in the French Quarter.

          F O A M Y B A R N

ANSWER: Framboyan, 624 Dumaine St

Another team traded this answer with our guys earlier in the day. The team gets a round of applause as they approach the finish line from the river side, but they aren't done yet. They still have to make it to Framboyan and back. The clock reads 4:58 as they pass by.

DISTANCE: 0.5 miles


The finish line is back at 546 St. Peter at the corner of Jackson Square. Time for a final "sprint" .2 miles to the finish line.

The team crossed the finish line 77th out of approximately 120 teams with a time of 5:02. Due to disqualifications of earlier finishers with wrong answers the final team placement is in 56th place! First and second place finishers were both disqualified. The first team to "qualify" came in just over 3 hours and 7th place finished at 3:38. The top 7 finishers got a few hours rest and then had to do it all again with a new set of checkpoints before the final winners, The Fluffy Bunnies, claimed the prize in the evening.

The team "ran" approximately 5.6 miles and took buses and trolleys for about 7.2 miles.

With better luck on checkpoint 4, which had the research team stumped for 1 hour 40 minutes (!) and had the runners not started the day injured, they might have had a shot at the final 7. Of course, they could barely walk at that point, and some of the research team really needed to go to sleep, but hey, maybe next year ....

Official Entrants Ground Support Research Team
John Salmon
Dave Pfitzner
Dave Fullagar
Tracey Parrish
Lynn Salmon
Jared Egolf
Tom Metzger
Chris Newton
Maksim Yevmenkin
Urban Challenge - Team Mumu

Last Updated: November 29, 2003